On March 4, the Karnataka High Court rejected a FIR filed by the state police against Dream11 cofounders Harsh Jain and Bhavit Sheth, alleging violations of the state’s online gambling statute.
On February 14, the Karnataka High Court declared the controversial portions of the Karnataka Police Act dealing with internet gambling unconstitutional, offering a huge relief to skill-based gaming companies that had shut down operations in the state.
This came after a dozen petitioners, including the All India Gaming Federation (AIGF), the self-regulatory fantasy sports industry body Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), and real-money gaming firms Mobile Premier League (MPL), Games24x7, A23(Ace2Three), Junglee Games, Gameskraft, and Pacific Games, filed a lawsuit against the law in the high court.
The constitutional legality of modifications to the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, which banned all types of online gambling including money transfers, was challenged in these cases. Following the ruling, several companies, including Dream11, have resumed allowing Karnataka residents to participate in paid contests on their platforms.
On October 9, the Karnataka Police filed a prosecution against Dream11 and its cofounders for continuing to operate on their platform after the law took effect on October 5.
The regulation did not apply to members of the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS), a self-regulatory industry body for fantasy sports, because the format “has been upheld by the courts of India as not amounting to gambling, betting, or wagering,” Dream11 claimed at the time.
However, on October 10, it halted operations in Karnataka, claiming that the decision was intended to relieve “deep concerns and anxiety” among its users in the state and that it “is without prejudice to our rights and contentions under the law.”
The Dream11 co-founders later filed a petition with the Karnataka High Court, alleging that the case was filed on the basis of “bald and vague allegations” made by the complainant, at the request of its business competitors, with the “mala fide intention of brushing the colour of gambling, betting, and wagering to the activities of fantasy sports” conducted on the Dream11 platform.
The Karnataka High Court ordered the state government not to use any coercive measures against the Dream11 cofounders on October 28.